Machine Learning vs. Artificial Intelligence

Instructor: Lyna Griffin

Lyna has tutored undergraduate Information Management Systems and Database Development. She has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters degree in Information Technology.

In this lesson, we will be examining the distinguishing characteristics of machine learning and artificial intelligence. We discuss the components of artificial intelligence and what the future holds.

Our Fascination with Inanimate Intellect

Mankind has always been interested in creating objects that can perform life-like actions, like speaking, walking, flying, and demonstrating some form of forethought or intelligence. Children find talking toys fascinating. Adults are fascinated by computers and games that have enough intelligence and forethought to interact and defeat humans at their own games.

Today these technologies have become advanced and commonplace. Human-like robots have been created to perform tasks, planes have an autopilot so they can fly themselves, and intelligent objects are sent into space to explore the unknown with human-like processes and techniques. Although humans are clearly the most advanced species, are we in a vicious cycle of recreating or replacing ourselves?

The use of inanimate objects to mimic life is all about the underlying technology. If you tell something what to do and it does it, is it really intelligent? This debate has led to technologies that were formally categorized as intelligent to be known today as just smart programming.

What is Machine Learning?

Machine Learning is a type is intelligence technology that provides computers with advanced abilities to execute processes without being specifically programmed to do so. In other words, they not only respond and act within their programming but have some sort of perception of the environment in which they operate so that when presented with unfamiliar circumstances or new un-relatable data they can make correct predictions and take appropriate actions to achieve their goals. The machine tries to accurately predict various outcomes and make the necessary adjustments and decisions to achieve its goals. A machine that has a mind of its own!

An example of machine learning is when websites make recommendations for the user based on data mining of the previous patterns exhibited by the user. Newsfeeds that are targeted to the user, products that are recommended by your pattern of purchases, and movie suggestions are all examples of this.

Types of Machine Learning

  • Supervised Machine Learning - In this type of machine learning the computer has a set of training programs and data with which it can train itself and subsequently make accurate inferences as it encounters new data sets or unfamiliar situations. These new inferences are based on its experiences with the training programs.
  • Unsupervised Machine Learning - This type of machine learning is geared towards facilitating the computer to map out patterns and relationships by itself from randomly presented data and make realistic predictions to achieve its goal.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that constitutes underlying technology which enables computers to simulate human intelligence. There are different components of artificial intelligence including sensing, language understanding, problem-solving, reasoning, and acting.

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